Warmth has returned to the Puget Sound, bringing with it melting snows and access to the high country destinations all around our backyard mountains. From the Snoqualmie area and Mount Rainier to the Olympics out across the Puget Sound, the high alpine is what gets Seattle’s hiking community stoked for months of adventures.
As more miles of paths become snow-free, the stunning mountain views aren’t the only reward for hikers frolicking in the thinning air. Late April and through August, the wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest’s mountain hikes are some of the most impressive in the country. Each week that passes, the snow level climbs higher, bringing with it the next bloom of wildflowers, ticking up the mountains in elevation. When we hear that wildflowers are blooming outside of Seattle, we flock to the high-alpine meadows around the Cascades and Olympics, hoping for a chance to witness every colorful petal.
Before you go
When wildflower season starts, there are a few things we need to remember before we head out. The first is that no matter how much you want that perfect picture, stay on the trail. When traipsing over the wildflower fields, our footsteps damage the soil and could ruin future blooms. To keep this awesome for everyone for years to come, stay on the designated paths and follow all the rules. Second: No matter how much you are tempted, never pick the flowers. Let them be there for everyone else to see.
Always check the conditions of the weather, the snow level, and the wildflower bloom before you head out. To help with the latter, we have created a list of regions and seasons, each with a good hike to see wildflowers every month of the blooming season.
Mount Rainier-area wildflower hikes
Each summer, visitors come from around the world for a chance to see, smell, and take in the gorgeous, flowery fields in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s one of the best places in the world for wildflowers, and after spending a late summer day here, you will agree. The park has 260 miles of maintained trails for you to discover, and these six wildflower viewing destinations are just a few of the highlights. For more information on wildflowers at Mount Rainier National Park, check out their wildflower guide webpage.
Early-season Mount Rainier wildflower hikes
Found at the lowlands in Mount Rainier’s Longmire District, the Trail of the Shadows makes for an excellent early season wildflower hike. Starting around May and lasting through July, enjoy skunk cabbage, coltsfoot and trillium in bloom. Also in the Longmire area, the Rampart Ridge Trail is another great hike that tends to melt out in June and sees a wide variety of wildflowers the deeper into summer it gets.
Mid-summer Mount Rainier wildflower hikes
Once the snow is melted and all the roads at Rainier are open, don’t miss out on hiking from Reflection Lakes to Paradise and back. Along this trail, you’ll see numerous species of wildflowers blooming at different elevations. If you’d rather just hang out Paradise, the popular and always gorgeous Skyline Trail gives you a world-class wildflower walk that gets better and better as it gets deeper into summer.
Late-summer Mount Rainier wildflower hikes
Once August is in full gear, do not miss the wildly scenic and amazing wildflower wonderland of Grand Park. The trail, which can vary in distance depending on the route, is where you’ll find seemingly endless fields of flowers with Mount Rainier providing the perfect backdrop. Those looking for someplace overlooked by the run of the mill hikers should hit up Mowich Lake to Tolmie Peak. This trail is steep but with the reward of numerous wildflowers in the late summer and breathtaking views from a lookout tower, it will quickly become a favorite.
Snoqualmie-area wildflower hikes
Easy to get to from Seattle, the Snoqualmie area is a hiking hotbed, full of alpine lakes, mountain views and wildflowers. From April through August, the trails along the I-90 corridor burst forth with flowers of all shapes and sizes, giving you months of adventures just a short drive from Seattle.
From May through July, the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail is a great place to get your early season wildflower fix. Best seen in May, enjoy trilliums in bloom, skunk cabbage, wood violets and bleeding hearts. Also nearby, Franklin Falls, which is best-known for being a winter Instagram destination, sees wildflowers in bloom from late May to July.
Past the popular water feature at Denny Creek, the hike to Melakwa Lake rewards you with wildflowers and mountain heather framing the lake. With red columbine and white thimbleberry standing out, you’ll enjoy every aspect of scenery found along the trail. Another favorite is Snow Lake, where you’ll find an incredible alpine lake, wildflowers and huckleberries. Both of these lake trails should not be missed.
Late in the summer, just before the crisp cool air starts to return, head up to Gold Creek Pond for a short, yet pretty hike full of wildflowers. Fully ADA accessible, this one mile trail rewards all with pretty blooms in July and August. Those looking for a longer hike should not skip the Sauk Mountain Trail, which will reward anyone looking for stunning views and slopes of colorful flowers.
Wildflower hikes in the Olympics
West of Seattle, reached by ferry or driving around the Puget Sound, the Olympics are a wilderness gem full of wildflowers. From April through August, the wildflowers of the Olympics pepper the roughly 1,000 miles of stunning trails on the Peninsula, making it a can’t-miss hiking destination.
In the early season, all the river trails will be lined with blooming trillium, but the true flowery gem is found on both the Tubal Cain Mine Trail and the path up Mount Walker. During the spring and early summer, both hikes erupt in blooms of Washington’s state flower, the Pacific Rhododendron. Tubal Cain is a bit harder to get to, while Mount Walker offers incredible views of Mt. Rainier and the city of Seattle.
It is hard to find much better hikes for stunning views and wildflowers in the early summer months than at Mount Townsend and Marmot Pass. Both hikes, found above the Hood Canal, climb through incredible wildflower-filled slopes, up to sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound region. Mount Townsend will leave you in awe at the Olympics, while Marmot Pass will inspire further adventures into the region.
Finally, once all the roads around the region are open, head to the northern section of the Peninsula for the best wildflowers in the Olympics. Start with the Grand Ridge Trail out of the Deer Park area of Olympic National Park. The road here is narrow, unpaved and not for the faint of heart. Once you have arrived, hike to Maiden Peak or Elk Mountain for sweeping ridgeline trails and miles of wildflowers. Those looking for a paved road should head to Hurricane Ridge above Port Angeles and enjoy the hike to Klahhane Ridge. With incredible views and stunning wildflowers, you may never want to leave the Olympics.